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Université Laval and Mastercard Foundation enter into major partnership to support Indigenous youth

Québec City, January 5, 2022 – Université Laval has entered into an exceptional five-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation through its EleV program. This profoundly significant partnership will help the university pursue its ambitious goal of supporting First Peoples in their work towards self-determination and providing help and guidance as they access and pursue university educations and achieve success in their studies. 
Efforts and resources will be focused on strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities, fostering an entrepreneurial culture, creating educational programs adapted to Indigenous realities, and implementing a range of other concrete measures to support and encourage Indigenous youth who wish to pursue higher education. 
“We are listening to the voices of Indigenous young people and they tell us that education and the land are two inter-related priorities,” said Jennifer Brennan, Head, Canada Programs, Mastercard Foundation. “This partnership between the Mastercard Foundation’s EleV Program and Université Laval together with Indigenous Nations in the region will support Indigenous young people to advance their education and to connect to their lands and to the Traditional Knowledges that have sustained their territories for generations and are central to future opportunities. This is an exciting initiative to advance our shared goal of finding innovative approaches to support young Indigenous people through education and on to meaningful livelihoods.” 
To help make those goals a reality, Université Laval will be receiving $15 million—the largest donation in its history—from the Mastercard Foundation. The news of this record-breaking donation was received with great enthusiasm by the Université Laval community and its foundation. 
Université Laval has a clear objective to build and maintain strong and lasting partnerships with First Nations and Inuit communities and to improve the socio-economic situation of Indigenous youth. “This extraordinary partnership with the Mastercard Foundation gives us the means to achieve our goals,” said Sophie D’Amours, Rector of Université Laval. “With this support, we can take concrete action to strengthen our friendship with Indigenous peoples, create change, offer mentorships with elders from their communities, and make a significant difference in the lives of many Indigenous youth by giving them the opportunity to start or continue to pursue a university education.” 
“The agreement is meant to be dynamic,” said Alain Gilbert, President and CEO of the Université Laval Foundation. “Regular meetings will be held with Indigenous students and partners to monitor the impact of the partnership. We would like to thank the Mastercard Foundation for its confidence in our institution. This exceptional joint partnership reflects Université Laval’s deep commitment to the cause of reconciliation and inclusion of First Nations communities.” 
Coming on the heels of the recent announcement of a new residence for First Nations and Inuit students on campus and the creation of a First Peoples circle, the partnership will support the university’s vision of doubling the number of Indigenous students from 400 to 800 over the next five years.  
Supporting doctoral students and developing programs that reflect Indigenous realities 
Among the many initiatives selected, 10 graduate scholarships will be offered to Indigenous doctoral students interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member at Université Laval.  
Working in collaboration with First Peoples partner organizations, the university plans to develop new programs that decolonize and Indigenize knowledge and learning. 
One of the most important measures to be bolstered by the partnership is a training program for land guardians currently being developed at the university. 
There are also plans for a microprogram in archaeology for Indigenous students, a land stewardship program, and various programs to meet community needs. 
Retreats will also be held once a year in remote areas and rural parts of the province. The idea is to create an alternative educational space that allows students to connect with Indigenous Elders and experts and benefit from their knowledge and experience. For leaders from Université Laval, these retreats will be an opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous youth and learn how to best meet their needs.  
Other planned initiatives include a fund to help students buy books and academic materials, training for staff who work with Indigenous students, an orientation day exclusively for Indigenous students, and financial support for the Indigenous student association.  
Promising partnerships and momentum for Indigenous entrepreneurship  
This collaboration will also allow Université Laval to develop strategic partnerships with Indigenous communities, starting with the creation of courses and bridging programs with the Kiuna Institution.  
The university will also develop specialized information modules in collaboration with Entrepreneuriat Laval to foster and support Indigenous entrepreneurs. An entrepreneurial start-up weekend will be organized once a year with Indigenous experts acting as mentors. The first weekend is scheduled for spring 2022. 
To support these joint efforts, the university will add staff responsible for strengthening ties between the communities and the campus, coordinating relations with the public, and following up on the agreements signed with the communities and organizations. An Indigenous entrepreneurship advisor will join the team for this component, among other new positions.  
Dedicated staff for partnership actions  
To make sure the various components of the partnership are brought into effect, new staff members will be hired to support students in their academic careers, liaise with partner communities and organizations, develop and supervise the land stewardship program, and organize and supervise archaeological study sites. 
Lecturers and instructors will also be hired to develop and offer new courses and activities, and students will be recruited to work as peer mentors. 
This extraordinary agreement with the Mastercard Foundation will allow Université Laval to develop and consolidate a series of projects that will support several components of the university’s First Peoples action plan, Université Laval en action avec les Premiers Peuples (Université Laval taking action with First Peoples), released on December 1, 2020. the education of more and more Indigenous leaders who will help shape the next generations of their communities. 
About Université Laval  
Innovation and excellence are watchwords at Université Laval. As one of Canada’s leading research universities, it currently ranks 7th in the country, with $426 million devoted to research last year. A leader in distance learning, Université Laval has over 1,650 professors and nearly 2,300 lecturers and teaching and research staff who share their knowledge with the university’s 55,000 students, 27% of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. The university values diversity and is proud of its academic community, whose members hail from some 130 countries. As the oldest French-language university in North America, Université Laval has educated more than 326,000 students who have gone on to play leadership roles in society, each in their own way. 
About the Mastercard Foundation 
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.  It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit:  

Sources : 
Public Affairs Team  
Université Laval 
Mastercard Foundation 
Don Kelly, Lead, Public Affairs and Communications, Canada Programs 
437 360-4095 ​​​​​​​